Why Intentions Matters & How to Set One

Intentions are the bedrock of Tibetan Buddhism, the tradition I come from.  Setting a meaningful and well thought out Intention can be incredibly valuable for all meditators. 

 

4 BENEFITS OF AN INTENTION

1) They motivate us when we feel discouraged, lazy, or too busy.

2) They remind us of what's REALLY important to us. This is inspiring in and of itself.

3) They give us the opportunity to connect with, and uncover, what is truly good in our hearts.

4) Intentions help us open to new possibilities of behaving/viewing the world.

 

HOW TO SET AN INTENTION

I differentiate between an intention and a motivation. A motivation is immediate. Here's some examples: 

MOTIVATION:

I want to meditate to reduce my anxiety; to up my productivity; to meet that pretty girl in class, etc., etc. These are immediate, totally honest motivators. And there's nothing wrong with them AT ALL. 

Our intention takes this motivation and wraps it in something more meaningful, something that will inspire us even after that immediate motivator is met. And ideally, something that speaks to our heart and its innate desire for goodness. Here's an example of the difference. 

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MOTIVATION AND INTENTION:

Motivation - to loose weight. Intention - to be healthy and strong.

Being healthy and strong might mean loosing weight. But being healthy and strong truly inspires and nourishes. 

Let's plug this example into the 4 BENEFITS OF AN INTENTION. 

1) Intentions motivate us when we feel discouraged, lazy, or too busy. *Wanting to loose weight certainly is motivating. Wanting to be healthy and strong has sustained motivation, and it resonates with a deeper level of self fulfillment.

2) Intentions remind us of what's REALLY important to us. This is inspiring in and of itself. *Being healthy and strong is ultimately far more important than loosing weight. 

3) Intentions give us the opportunity to connect with, and uncover, what is truly good in our hearts. *Our desire to be healthy and strong comes from self-love. By contrast, the desire to loose weight might not come from self love. Underneath it all, we all want what's best for us: physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. We need to nurture the parts of us that want what's best for us.

4) Intentions help us open to new possibilities of behaving/viewing the world. * Wanting to loose weight might make you reject the chocolate cake (at least until you've reached your goal), where as wanting to be healthy and strong might encourage you to try yoga and a green juice. Intentions are opening, rather than constricting.

 

MEDITATION

Spend some time settling into your body and your breath. Take your time until your mind and body feel both relaxed and attentive.

1. What's your base line motivator? Be real about this, and embrace it.

2. Spend some time exploring what's really important to your heart. What makes your heart sing at its deepest levels? What inspires and nourishes it? These are, essentially, your values. Our values change, so check in often.

3. Wrap your motivation in an intention that truly inspires you. You can phrase it as: To be . . . . Pick a 2 or 3 things that you aspire "to be."  Get clear on the language, and then say these intentions over and over to yourself. If you like, you can tie them to your breath.

4. Replay something negative that happened to you today. Now recall your intention, and see if your intention changes your perspective/course of action.

Settle back into your body and breath. Let your awareness return to your breath.

 

Have you listened to my Intention Meditation yet?

 

Megan Mook's MNDFL class notes. Oct 24, 2016

 

 

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